Japan decided Tuesday to extend its unilateral sanctions on North Korea, including a ban on all trade, by two years to maintain pressure on the country to give up its nuclear and missile programs, and to make progress on the issue of its past abductions of Japanese nationals.
The sanctions extension, approved by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga before the measures' expiration on April 13, bans trade and prohibits the docking in Japan of North Korean-registered ships and any vessels that have called at a North Korean port.
North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles on March 25, the first such provocation in a year, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Japan, the United States and South Korea have vowed to cooperate toward full implementation of the U.N. sanctions and to make "concerted" efforts toward the North's denuclearization.
Japan has long sought to repatriate its citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, one of the sticking points that have stood in the way of the countries moving toward a normalization of diplomatic ties.
Suga recently reiterated his willingness to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the hope of making a breakthrough on the stalemate, although the prospects of such a meeting remain unclear.
Tokyo implemented sanctions against Pyongyang in 2006, banning imports from North Korea and the arrival of affiliated vessels.
It has since expanded the scope of the punitive measures by adding a prohibition against exports to North Korea in 2009.